College football: Joe vs. The Pro, Week 9

On paper, few weeks in the three-season history of Joe vs. the Pro appear as difficult to gauge as Week 9 of the college football season.

Undefeated Alabama and Mississippi State square off in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the 96th installment of the 90-Mile Drive rivalry. In Jacksonville, the undefeated Gators can clinch the SEC East earlier than any other team in the division’s history with a victory against rival Georgia. In Norman, Okla., the Sooners are a 10-point favorite against undefeated Notre Dame.

If recent trends hold true, the Pro will have no problems maneuvering through the potential pitfalls this week. Lee Sterling of opened up a substantial lead against Joe last week with a sizzling hot effort of 7-1 straight up and 6-2 against the spread. In the past two weeks, the Pro is a stunning 11-5 against the spread.

Joe held is own last week, going 6-2 straight up and 4-4 against the spread. For the season, Joe is 47-17 straight up and 28-31 against the spread. Overall, the Pro is 47-17 straight up and 33-26 against the spread.

This week’s picks:

Duke at Florida State (FSU by 27.5)

Joe: The loss of running back Chris Thompson for the season will help keep the Noles focused this week. FSU 45, Duke 15

Pro: My brother-in-law, a proud Duke grad, keeps forwarding me emails he receives from the Duke Athletic Department after each win. I won’t hear from him after this game. Stick to basketball Bro. Florida State 48, Duke 17

Mississippi State at Alabama (Alabama by 24)

Joe: The Bulldogs will keep it close early but don’t expect the Crimson Tide to get caught peeking ahead to LSU Week. Alabama 42, Mississippi State 15

Pro: Bulldogs have discovered the forward pass. Last season they had 200 passing yards in only three games. This year they have reached that mark six times. Bama is a tad overrated. Alabama 31, Mississippi State 17

Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville (UF by 7)

Joe: This one is will be an old-fashioned slugfest but I like the Gators’ defense in the fourth quarter. UF 21, Georgia 17

Pro: Everyone is loving the second-ranked Gators. Dawgs are yesterday’s news but have the skill players in QB Aaron Murray, RB’s Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley to spring the outright upset. Georgia 24, Florida 23

Syracuse at South Florida (USF by 3)

Joe: The Bulls’ season of woe continues in Tampa. Syracuse 28, UF 24

Pro: With banged-up WRs, the Bulls will have to run the football and QB BJ Daniels will run early and often. Syracuse run “D” has allowed only 35 YPG last three weeks and the Orange is the more complete team. Syracuse 28, South Florida 26

Central Florida at Marshall (UCF by 2.5)

Joe: Cold weather gets the best of UCF. Marshall 45, UCF 35

Pro: Thundering Herd’s is led by red-hot Rakeem Cato, a Miami Central product who is nation’s 11th-ranked passer with 2,651 yards and 21 TD passes. Marshall 34, Central Florida 31

Notre Dame at Oklahoma (Oklahoma by 10)

Joe: Luck runs out on the Irish. Oklahoma 30, Notre Dame 28

Pro: Fighting Irish hasn’t faced a QB like Sooner trigger man Landry Jones and vertical threats Kenny Stills and Penn state transfer Justin Brown. Oklahoma 30, Notre Dame 14

Western Kentucky at FIU (WKU by 7)

Joe: The Hilltoppers’ lone loss this season was a barnburner against Texas A&M. FIU’s offense can’t keep up. WKU 42, FIU 32

Pro: I doubt Golden Panther DC Todd Orlando makes it to Year 3 after his unit that returned 10 of 11 starters is allowing 38 PPG up from 19 PPG last season. WKU 37, FIU 24

Troy at Florida Atlantic (Troy by 7)

Joe: The Trojans might be down this season by their standards but FAU just lost to FBS newcomer South Alabama. Troy 28, FAU 15

Pro: If Trojans can beat FIU without starting three-year starting QB Corey Robinson they should be able to win by double digits vs. Owls, who allowed 37 last week vs. lightly regarded South Alabama. Troy 34, FAU 21